Health [incomplete]

Just to be clear: I am not a doctor. Use your brain before following my advice and consult a doctor. Don't kill yourself.

Having said that, the following practices are pretty safe and unlikely to kill you. None of the what follows is original research. I am just synthesizing what master researchers tell and I felt that their message was important enough to repeat. Some of the people I use as references are Tim Ferriss, Ray Cronise, Wim Hof

I am going to tell some facts about things you may already know - how to do it, benefits, and common myths.

But before I do that, here's a philosophy that I have developed after much stress and testing.

General rules for healthy living

Rule 1 - Listen to your body

  • Experts who tell you breakfast is important are wrong.
  • Experts who tell you to skip breakfast are wrong.
  • Experts who tell you to eat every 2 hours are wrong.
  • Experts who tell you to eat only once a day are wrong.
  • Experts who tell you to eat eggs are wrong.
  • Experts who tell you not to eat eggs are wrong.
  • You get the idea... but if everybody's wrong, who's right? It's your body. Listen carefully to your body. Your body tells you how it feels after you start doing something. 
  • It's important to note that your body may behave weird even when you are actually getting healthier. It's always good to know the cause if you are not feeling right.
  • After making any change, there is an adjustment period. If you don't feel right even after the adjustment period, you better tweak the change to suit you or abandon it altogether.

Rule 2 - It's not the lack, it's the excess that's killing you 

  • Don't eat supplements or anything out of the ordinary without testing to see if your body really needs it. 
  • Most of the diseases today are due to excessive eating, healthy or otherwise and topping it with supplements which are not even required.

Rule 3 - Get tested with right procedure

  • Whenever you give samples for a test, always confirm the proper procedure. It may be fasting, not eating any particular kinds of foods like alcohol the night before, etc. It's not uncommon for labs to draw blood without due diligence and give reports which give a false sense of alarm which, by placebo, can actually cause the problem.

Balanced body

  • The more symmetrical you are, the more beautiful you look and healthier you feel
  • Symptoms of an unbalanced body:
    • You wake up in the morning with joint pain and muscle pain
    • You get injured easily
    • One of your arms is significantly stronger than the other.
    • Either half of your body always feels tight
    • Pain can manifest in lower back, upper back, shoulders, neck pain  
  • Causes of an unbalanced body:
    • Working out and giving more importance to dominant side
    • In extreme circumstances (for example due to injury) or falling from a height, the body can become unbalanced.
  • Cure:
    • Balance exercises like yoga, kettle bell swings can help
    • If it's due to injury, you can't fix that with yoga or diet (I tried yoga for years). An experienced Physician needs to be correct this. In my case, an illiterate old man because doctors told me I can't be fixed, and it's only going to get worse.
    • If you tell your doctor about this, they will, most likely, ignore you or prescribe a pain killer. You will need to see a lot of doctors to find the one which will recognize that this is a problem which exists, and may be fixed. I went to many doctors for 8 years and couldn't find even a single one who recognized the problem, let alone fix my back.

Yoga

  • If you want to stay functional for a long time, you will need flexibility and mobility, just strength won't be enough, and may even be counter-productive. 
  • It's a great, non-impact exercise which doesn't hurt the joints.
  • Joints have a long healing period. You need to make them healthy before doing strength exercises. Mobility exercises like yoga are very helpful with the same.

Cold showers

  • Method
    • If you can't do a cold shower directly, do an alternating hot and cold shower.
    • Despite what your grandmother says, your bones won't become brittle and crack. Just don't use scalding hot water for extended periods of time and then take a cold shower. Then your grandmother may be right.
  • Improve immune system
  • Improve cardiovascular function
  • Decreases fat
  • Protect from cold-related diseases
  • Helps you generate heat when exposed to a cold environment

Meditation

  • Any meditation time, even 3 minutes, is better than doing no meditation
  • Any meditation technique is better than no meditation
  • Meditation is to mind what exercise is to body.
  • You must do it - but you knew that already

Diet

  • Sugar kills - Avoid at all cost
    • Eat Stevia if you have to
  • Most modern diseases are due to over-nutrition and not under-nutrition
  • Eat salad with meals if you want to get and stay thin while maintaining your energy throughout the day.

Vegetarian and non-Vegetarian

  • Just being a vegetarian is not enough.
    • Indians, primarily vegetarians, are more prone to heart attacks than anybody else in the world, even surpassing sausage eating, cheese gulping Americans and British.
    • You have to make sure you are getting all the required vitamins
  • Eating non-Vegetarian food doesn't lead to disease directly
    • It's not eating vegetables and salads with it that leads to problems.

Fasting

  • Improves metabolism - helps to burn fat
  • If you don't eat for a day, you won't die
    • I had my misgivings about this initially. But just a week ago, I went 2.75 days with just water. After resting on the first day I also cycled a total of 55 Km, did 50 push-ups and ten pull-ups in last two days and in this time
  • You should do light physical activity even when you are fasting to avoid muscle wasting - ensures burning fat instead of muscle.
  • Fasting is good for health - once a week is appropriate
    • We are not evolved to be eating continuously and in quantities we do.

Walking

  • "Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death" - Dr. James Levine, from Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiatives
  • Walking is the best exercise for moving your body in a non-invasive fashion. 
  • Walking reduces stress and gives you new creative ideas

Exercise

  • The best exercise is the one that you actually do. So: 
    • Don't make big plans initially.
    • Start small
    • Commit doing whatever you can - even 5 minutes of stretching/walking if you can't afford more. This helps to maintain the habit.
  • You really don't need a lot of exercise.
    • If you only do 10-20 minutes a day, it's good enough
    • Up to 75 kettle bell swings, with or without a break, in a day, three days a week gives you enough cardio.
  • If you are prone to injuries
    • Walk
      • Speed walk - speed walking is an excellent injury free cardio. 15 minutes a day is all you need.
      • Even if you do other exercises, walking helps you to relax
      • Walking also engages the mind, so you think better.
      • Walking works out the muscles gently and gives a very low impact massage that you desperately need.
    • Swim
      • There is no better exercise than swimming
        • It works most of your body and engages body in low stress, very low impact environment
      • You lose more weight in water than on land
        • You not only lose weight by exercise but also by just sitting in water due to extra calories burnt due to heat loss
      • Swimming uplifts psychology - makes you happy 
    • Fix balance issues in your body by
      • Doing kettle bell swings
      • Stretching
      • Yoga - Balancing exercises
  • Don't Exercise on an Empty Stomach (Source: Readers digest India)
    • You're sweating away in the gym to lose weight. And if you don't eat beforehand, you'll burn more fat, right? Wrong. "If you don't have the carbohydrate stores to fuel your work-out, your body will burn muscle instead," says Anita Bean, author of The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition (A&C Black). "You'll achieve the opposite of what you wanted: a sluggish metabolism, less muscle tone and poorer fitness." o Ideally eat a balanced meal 2-4 hours before exercise. o Failing that, have a snack 1-2 hours ahead, but go for something that'll enter the bloodstream slowly, such as fresh or dried fruit, yogurt, nuts or a cheese or tuna sandwich, not something sugary that'll give only a brief energy rush. o If you exercise first thing in the morning a sports drink can give you energy without making you feel sick. o After exercise, eat within two hours to help replace lost glycogen and boost your metabolic rate-vital for weight loss.

Sleep

  • Don't nag people who need more than 6 hours of sleep
    • Different people need different sleep
  • When you sleep, it should be in a dark room, darker the better.
  • Wake Up, Work Out
    • Exercise is a healthy habit, anytime. But if you can't sleep, work out in the mornings, say doctors at America's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre.
    • In a study, morning exercisers had no sleep problems. But evening exercisers didn't sleep well.
    • If you work out at night, try yoga. It doesn't seem to affect sleep.

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